Snapchat’s Snap Map sparks controversy whilst driving event and Stories discovery

Though already heavily criticised by experts, let’s talk a little about Snapchat’s latest feature addition: Snap Map.

The latest addition to Snapchat’s pool of quirky user tools – Snap Map – lets app users share their current location with friends to encourage real-life meet-ups. Snapchat enthusiastically calls it a “way to explore the world”.

However, it has been noted that the map looks eerily similar to social map app Zenly’s location app, which it turns out Snap acquired for an estimated $300 million.

Snap Map lets Snapchat users simply share their location with their friends or go into Ghost Mode which makes them disappear from the app. The map has already proven successful for Zenly, because it speaks directly to teenagers in fear of missing out, with users returning to the map to check they’re not being left out of an event.

And that’s partially where the problem with Snap Map lies. Safety experts are concerned that it presents a huge privacy threat and opens the door to bullying and even stalking.

Larry Magid, the CEO of ConnectSafely.org told The Guardian:

“It is important to be careful about who you share your location with, as it can allow people to build up a picture of where you live, go to school and spend your time. Parents need to sit down with their kids and get them to really consider which friends they are sharing with.”

For Snap, it’s just another tool to help discover and explore local surroundings. Indeed, the Snap Map also integrates with Stories to allow users to discover new content. For example, users can post their own photos or videos for any Snapchat user to see and explore. If lots of content is posted by different users, an area on Map may show where big events are currently happening.

So what’s in it for advertisers? Nothing just yet. Snap told TechCrunch that there won’t be any ads on Maps for the foreseeable future. Featured content however is still available. In addition, we think Snap Map could pair well with Snapchat’s recent acquisition of Placed to drive foot traffic to stores.

Snap Map is not the first locating feature rolled out by a social media company. Twitter enables users to add their locations to tweets and Facebook has integrated check-ins and location sharing tools within Messenger.